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Live Louisiana Crawfish from Cajun Grocer

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Back when I did my review of Cajun Grocer’s Turducken in November, Charlie asked me if I would like to do a review of their Live Louisiana Crawfish when the season came around. Hmm…live Louisiana crawfish, for free? Let me think about it…..just kidding, of course!

Thanks a million to Charlie and the folks at Cajun Grocer for sending such a generous portion of a superior product, and all I had to do was just write about it, which I do for fun anyway!

I contacted Charlie from Cajun Grocer last week and he asked me when I planned on boiling them and I said Saturday, he suggested shipping them Thursday for Friday and keeping them someplace cool with a bag of ice on them until I was ready to boil on Saturday, this worked out perfectly. The crawfish arrived early Friday morning and I promptly did as he said, hosed them down in the sack, and placed them into a cooler with a bag of ice over them. I peeked around through the purple sack in awe of the size of some of the little devils, as their beady little eyes watched me as well.

From Crawfish Boil

When Saturday rolled around I hosed them down again and placed them back into the cooler, again covered with ice. I invited my brother Brad and his girlfriend Heather over for a boil, the 15 lbs would be more than enough for the four of us, you see, up in Michigan folks don’t crush the 5-8 pounds that can be standard in Louisiana.

From Crawfish Boil

I got my liquid boiling away (my crawfish boil recipe) in the afternoon in a 30 quart Turkey Fryer with a basket insert at the ready. I cut my onions, lemons, garlic, corn, washed the new potatoes and headed out to cut the sack open and sort through the critters to remove any casualties from travel and time, and I was pleased to find that there were very few dead ones, and in fact the majority were extremely feisty.

From Crawfish Boil
From Crawfish Boil

Even more impressive than than how feisty they were, was their size, varying from medium to gargantuan like this one.

From Crawfish Boil

I picked through them one by, sorting them in my 2 1/2 year old daughters wading pool, as she watched in horror. “In my poool!!! in my pool!!”

From Crawfish Boil

After I got them sorted I washed them several times by first hosing them down, then leaving them in the basket and placing it into a large pot, filling it with water, draining, filling with water, draining, until the remaining water was eventually clean, about 3-4 times. Clean and ready for the boil!

From Crawfish Boil

Coming next, the Crawfish Boil Recipe using Cajun Grocer’s Crawfish!

Related Posts:

Crawfish Etouffee Recipe

Preview Pic!

From Crawfish Boil

Be sure to check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes whick links to every recipe featured on Nola Cuisine!

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Parasol’s Restaurant and Bar

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From Parasol's

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! The annual block party begins at Parasol’s on Constance & Third in the Irish Channel at 11:00 a.m.!! I wish I could be there.

Parasol’s Restaurant & Bar
2533 Constance Street
New Orleans, LA 70130

Parasol’s Restaurant & Bar, like any respectable neighborhood restaurant in New Orleans doesn’t look like a place that you would consider eating. Drinking absolutely, eating no.

From Parasol's

And let me say that this is one of the great drinking establishments in New Orleans, a wonderful hole in the wall bar, almost always packed with locals and whomever else happens to walk or stumble through the door.

From Parasol's

The kind of Irish Pub with hand written signs that say things like “A 20% gratuity will be added to any credit cards left at the bar. You Drunks!!” This one made me laugh because in my past, I have to admit…guilty as charged. It’s always good to be in a town where you’re among friends.

From Parasol's

Running parallel with the bar, on the other side of the wall is a somewhat dingy little dining room (I say that with the utmost respect and actually as a compliment), where in my humble opinion, the BEST Roast Beef Po Boy (my Parasol’s style Roast Beef Po Boy Recipe) is served. Detractors can go nuts in the comments section if you like, this is a hot debate, but Parasol’s serves the kind that I like, Roast Beef that is just obliterated from long slow cooking in a rich gravy, smothered with mayonaise, some tomatoes, pickles and lettuce; dressed that is. And that bread! Light as can be, yet chewy, with a crust that is beyond imagine!

From Parasol's

Now the fun starts. This is also the messiest sandwich I have ever eaten, hats off. From my first bite I was awash in debris, mayo, gravy, up to my elbows. I actually ran out of napkins and had to clean myself by rolling around in a small patch of grass I found on Constance. I’m exaggerating of course, but you know what I mean, good sloppy eating in one of the most colorful little Irish bars I’ve ahd the pleasure of visiting.

Speaking of which, tomorrow being St Patrick’s Day, this is the place to be in the city, they annually host a block party that begins at 11:00 a.m. and runs all day long! Wish I was there! Here are some pics of the block party on their website.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!!

Gaston from The New Orleans Creole and Cajun Cuisine Blog sent us this video which shows the owner of Parasol’s making their famous Roast Beef. They should have given the host a Po Boy to keep him from talking so much through the video, that clown annoys me. (**Update – Upon my second viewing of this video, I’ve concluded that this guy from the Food Network, is THE biggest stooge on TV! Larry, Moe, Curly, Shemp, and even the elusive Curly Joe, have nothing on this guy.) Thanks for the link Gaston, and keep up the great blogging! Here is the video:

Related Posts:

Parasol’s Style Roast Beef Po Boy Recipe
Roast Beef Po Boy with Debris Gravy Recipe

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which links to all of the recipes featured on this site!

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Cochon Butcher

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From Cochon Butcher

Cochon Butcher
930 Tchoupitoulas
New Orleans LA 70130
504-588-PORK

Upon entering Cochon Butcher, which is right around the corner from Cochon Restaurant and in the same building on Tchoupitoulis and Andrew Higgins, the first thing that I laid eyes on was their Andouille. Nicely laid out in the deli case, deep brown from hours of smoking, and as a true Andouille should be, huge as it’s stuffed into a beef middle casing.

From Cochon Butcher

The first thing that I thought of is that New Orleans locals, thanks to Chefs Donald Link, Stephen Stryjewski, and Warren Stephens, will no longer have to make the commute out to Laplace, Louisiana (read my Jacob’s Andouille post) to get Andouille if they don’t want to, the real article is right in the city now, along with scores of other wonderful products. All of the sausages, salamis, Mortadella, confits, terrines, rillettes, pickles, Creole Mustard, EVERYTHING is made in house! This place is a Mecca for all things swine, even more so than Cochon Restaurant. Feel like making a Cassoulet? Hell, stop into Cochon Butcher, get your Duck Confit, fresh sausages, cured sausages, whatever you want to include, they will probably have it.

On a related but somewhat side note, I just read that Donald Link has a cookbook coming out next month called
Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana. I already preordered mine, needless to say, that should be a keeper. (Read my review HERE!)

From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher

I was greeted at the deli case by Chef partner Warren Stephens holding out a sample plate of the house made Bacon Praline, which, as my friend Tim at Roux-B-Doo’s says, is like sugary crack. Seriously, it is. This isn’t the Praline Bacon at Elizabeth’s, awesome in it’s own right, rather it’s an actual Praline with chunks of the house made Kurobuta Bacon inside of it in place of the traditional Pecans. Awesome flavors.

From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher

After coming off of the rush of the Bacon Praline, I asked Chef Warren if it would be alright to take some pics around the store/sWine bar. He said sure and asked if I would like to go upstairs to see the curing room. I said hell yes, of course. He led me upstairs through the upstairs kitchen to the temperature controlled curing room, one of them actually, there is another one at Herbsaint, as well as the ones in the downstairs display cases.

From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher

Inside of the upstairs room was a treasure trove of Salamis, blood sausages, you name it, in various states of cure.

From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher

A new batch of Duck Pastrami was recently hung.

From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher

Chef Warren told me that when the cured products reach their maturity, they are Vacuum sealed to stop the curing process, and also package for sale or storage.

From Cochon Butcher

While we were upstairs he also gave me a tour of Calcasieu the also newly opened catering facility for private events (I will do a separate post on Calcascieu).

The Sandwich board:

From Cochon Butcher

The Wine board:

From Cochon Butcher

We headed back downstairs so that I could order something for lunch, looking at all of that great food was killing me. I decided to order the Muffuletta, with all house made meats no less. Any loyal reader of my site knows that I would HAVE to order the Muffuletta on my first visit knowing that I am a Muffuletta junkie, and let me tell you, this one did not disappoint.

From Cochon Butcher

Cochon Butcher’s Muffuletta has an olive salad that is very finally chopped which I didn’t know if I would care for, as I usually prefer the olives pretty much just crushed a la Central Grocery, but it actually was a perfect accent to the finely cured meats and the cheeses without being overpowering. The olive salad was on the top and bottom of the sandwich. The bread was also perfect, light and crumbly as it should be. The Muffuletta could easily feed 2, in some cases 4, and at $12, especially considering everything is made in house, it’s a steal.

From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher

While I was gorging myself on the above awesome Muffuletta, Chef Warren brought me over a Lagniappe to try out, his Tartiflette that he was featuring as a small plate item. It was a lovely pairing of fingerling Potatoes, housemade Kurobuta Bacon, sweet onions, and a touch of heat, baked in a Gratin with of course the wonderfully stinky Reblochon cheese. Phenomenal flavors; the smokiness of the bacon, the sweetness of the onion, tender gold and buttery fingerlings, woodsy Thyme, and the spice of the peppers all tied together with the Robust creamy flavor of the Reblochon. Awesome job.

From Cochon Butcher

I can’t thank Chef Warren Stephens enough for the gracious tour, I will always remember it!

I will let the pictures do the talking for all of the wonderful items Cochon Butcher has to offer!

From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which links to all of the recipe featured on this site!

Related Posts:

My new friend Su-Jit’s Post on her trip to Cochon Butcher
Cochon Restaurant
Central Gorcery
Andouille Sausage Recipe
Tasso Recipe

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Casamento’s Restaurant

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From New Orleans Restaurants

Casamento’s Restaurant
4330 Magazine St.
New Orleans, Louisiana 70115
504-895-9761

Well, I finally made it to Casamento’s. After several attempts over the last few years, for one reason or another, every time I’ve showed up to their door on Magazine Street with an empty stomach just moaning and groaning for Oysters, I would inevitably be met with a sign to crush my hopes and dreams for that meal period. CLOSED. Granted, it would have helped if I had checked their website or bothered to call, but honestly, I’m not that bright.

On the other hand though, sometimes New Orleans takes you where she wants to take you, or just gives you a nudge in the direction that you want to go. In my experience, this is not a town for itineraries, not if you want to do it right. Go with the wind, come back often, and eventually you will see everything that you want to see. Yesterday the wind finally took me to Casamento’s, and I have to say that it was well worth the wait. I now rank Casamento’s among the best places that I have eaten Oysters in the city, raw or cooked.

From
From New Orleans Restaurants

Casamento’s was opened in 1919 by Joseph Casamento an immigrant of Ustica, Italy, who decided to tile the whole restaurant for easy cleaning, the restaurant is often likened to an empty swimming pool. Here is a pic of the front of the restaurant section of the restaurant and Oyster bar (sorry for the blurry pic):

From New Orleans Restaurants

The floor tiles:

From New Orleans Restaurants

The back section of the restaurant where I had lunch (I wanted to sit near the kitchen):

From New Orleans Restaurants

CJ cooking in the kitchen, you can see the Pan Bread in the oven:

From New Orleans Restaurants

The restaurant has long been loved by locals and when Joseph Sr. died the restaurant was passed on to his son Joseph Casamento Jr. Sadly after years in the restaurant (which he lived above) Joseph Jr. passed away the night Hurricane Katrina hit. Here is a pic from one of my favorite books, the long out of print Time-Life book American Cooking: Creole and Acadian which shows both Joeseph Casamento Jr. and Sr. shucking Oysters for their hungry customers back in the seventies. (I didn’t know who to contact for permission for this pic, as the book is so long out of print. If the owner has any problem with me posting this image, email me and I will take it down immediately!)

From New Orleans Restaurants

The restaurant is now owned and run by Joseph Sr’s grandson, and Joseph Jr’s nephew CJ and his wife Linda Gerdes, he runs the kitchen and she runs the front, carrying on the traditions of the restaurant and fine cooking that locals and travelers have come to rely on from Casamento’s.

I started my lunch, with a half dozen on the half shell, beautifully shucked, plump, and delicious Louisiana Oysters. Casamento’s has ketchup, horseradish, and Louisiana hot sauce on the tables for mixing your own sauce.

From New Orleans Restaurants

Detail of one of my Oysters:

From New Orleans Restaurants

My favorite part of the meal, or my first favorite that is, is the Oyster Stew, simply done with the best Oysters, perfectly poached in the milky broth, succulent with onions, green onions, with a hint of celery and thyme, and glistening pearls of butter of floating on top of the stew as it arrives.

From New Orleans Restaurants

This is a simple soup, perfectly executed, one of the best things I have eaten in the city. By the way, I’m a Gourmand if you haven’t noticed, not a gourmet.

From New Orleans Restaurants

By the way, Cassamento’s Oyster Stew Recipe is contained in Kit Wohl’s book
New Orleans Classic Seafood, page 42. I ate a similar Oyster Stew at Grand Central Terminal Oyster Bar in New York when I was a younger lad and didn’t really appreciate it’s simplicity, although Casamento’s version immediately reminded me of that day. I actually ate that Oyster Stew while sitting next to the now late Al Lewis a.k.a Grandpa Munster who was celebrating his birthday at his favorite restaurant. I remember quietly whispering to my friend in between slurps of soup, ‘is that Grandpa Munster??’ (quietly), as he slurped his Oyster stew and casually glanced over and nodded in affirmative, ‘M’hmm, THAT’s Grandpa Munster.’

Anyway, back to the meal at Casamento’s, last stop was the famous Oyster Loaf, perfectly fried Velvety Oysters served, not on the New Orleans French Bread, but rather on Casamento’s signature pan bread, thick slices of toasted bread which serves as a cradle for the perfectly fried Oysters. You can order it dressed or not. Casamento’s Oyster Loaf is dressed with Iceberg lettuce, tomato, and Mayonnaise, quartered sweet pickle on the side. I’m patting myself on the back for this picture, if you would like to do so also, please return my arm to it’s regular forward position to do so. 🙂

From New Orleans Restaurants

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which links to all of the recipes featured on this site!

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New Orleans Getaway

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I am on the road back to New Orleans for a very brief stay with an obscenely aggressive dining schedule! I am absolutely fired up!! First on my list is Cochon Butcher, then Mandina’s, Parasol’s, Cassamento’s (my third attempt, always closed for one reason or another when I get there), and even if I have to use the Vomatorium, I will make sure that I get an order of Drago’s Charbroiled Oysters before I go. I also have a few other culinary attractions that I aim to make it to on my short trip, more to come. I’m arriving on March 08, with an empty stomach as well as an emtpy digital camera card, and I’m leaving March 10 in the evening with both full to the gills. I really can’t wait. Here are some of my favorite pics from my last two trips, culinary and non.

Lafayette Cemetery, across the wall from Commander’s Palace.

From New Orleans

Blue Dog window shopping with reflection of Royal Street and St. Ann.

From New Orleans

Statue of Andrew Jackson with St. Louis Cathedral in the background.

From New Orleans

Central Grocery Muffuletta on the banks of the Mississippi.

From Nola Cuisine

The Central Grocery Muffuletta after a bit of air travel. I felt the same way, a little battered, but still good to go.

From New Orleans

Camellia Grill!

From New Orleans
From New Orleans

…and the best damned Pecan Pie!

From New Orleans
From New Orleans

Ferdi Special at Mother’s.

From New Orleans

Slave Quarters Evergreen Plantation. An eye opening and haunting experience, not in the “this place is haunted” sense, but the “this is how our country was built, and it should be haunted” sense. Pictures do not do this place justice.

From New Orleans
From New Orleans

The battered Dixie Brewery. I never posted on this, it was too damned depressing. I will post a few now.

From New Orleans

Who was the biggest Vandal? Katrina or THE vandals?

From New Orleans
From New Orleans
From New Orleans

Napoleon House, love this place.

From New Orleans
From New Orleans
From New Orleans

I imagine I would disappoint just a few if I didn’t mention these!

From New Orleans

Much more to come!!! See you soon New Orleans!

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Turducken

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From Nola Cuisine

Despite what you have seen in stores since 30 seconds after Halloween ended (and early September in some stores), there is still a holiday between Halloween and Christmas called Thanksgiving, and it is my favorite kind because it is based entirely around eating. All of the parades are just leading up to eating, and football games are just something to kick the tryptophan into high gear with the end result being a much needed mid day nap.

Elliot from Cajun Grocer emailed me to ask if I would like to review their Turducken before the Thanksgiving rush, I had to think about it, as I don’t usually do any advertisement on this site, and then I said why not, as long as I can do an unbiased review. So he shipped it out, and I made plans to have a group of friends over for a Turducken feast.

The origins of Turducken are a bit foggy, as two claim to have invented it, Paul Prudhomme, and Hebert’s Specialty Meats in Maurice, Louisiana. I don’t know who invented it, in fact, nesting birds together can be traced back to medieval times. All that I know is that a chicken stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a Turkey just has to make for good eating. It can also make for a labor intensive day of prep if you’re not familar with deboning poultry. If you want to try it at home, John Folse actually has some nice illustrations on the deboning process in his book The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine, and Paul Prudhomme has an insanely detailed recipe, along with extremely detailed instructions on the deboning process of each bird, along with three different stuffings in the wonderful book The Prudhomme Family Cookbook.

Cajun Grocer also has a recipe with instructions here.

If you are a regular reader of this site you know that this is a recipe I would love to cover in great detail on this site in the future.

The Turducken arrived promptly when Elliot said it would, nicely packaged and in great condition.

From Nola Cuisine
From Nola Cuisine

Cajun Grocer’s Turduckens are 15 pounds, I thawed mine for about 4 days in the refrigerator for a complete thaw.

From Nola Cuisine

The Turducken comes raw so it is basically yours to mess up or make great depending on how you cook it.

From Nola Cuisine

The only really negative reviews I’ve read about Cajun Grocer’s Turduckens are in regards to shipping, and it is usually because of poor planning. If planning on ordering a Turducken from Cajun Grocer or anywhere you should leave plenty of time for not just delivery, but also about 4-5 days of thaw time, preferably with a little breathing room in between the two. Would you trust your holiday meal to the efficiency of Fed Ex? I sure wouldn’t. Plan ahead.

How I cooked the Turducken

Preheated oven set to 325 F.

I placed the thawed Turducken in a large roasting pan and brushed it all over with heated Duck Fat (a.k.a. nectar of the gods). I then seasoned it liberally with my Creole Seasoning.

I roasted the Turducken for about 4 1/2 hours to an internal temperature of 155-160 degrees, allowing for some carry over cooking when it came out. I let the bird(s) rest for about a half an hour before slicing.

In the meantime I made a gravy from the pan juices, which I have to say was hands down, the absolute best gravy I have ever made, seen, smelled or tasted. Not because of anything I did, I just tightened it up with a roux. It was the culmination of flavor of all the birds, pork and stuffings woven together in perfect harmony. I could have drunk it from a glass, it was that good. (Actually, I did a shot of it when no one was looking…don’t tell anyone.)

Make sure that you slice the bird(s) at the table, there is nothing better than slicing into what appears to be a bone in Turkey and having the knife go clear through with ease, your guests will love it.

The Flavor

The flavor of Cajun Grocer’s Turducken was wonderful, nicely seasoned with good stuffings (a cornbread stuffing and a creole pork stuffing). The only downfall I felt was that they only use the duck breast and not the rest of the bird, because as I’ve said in the past, I’m a leg and thigh man, but that’s just my personal taste. Another thing that the Cajun Grocer does is skin the chicken and duck, which I do agree with as I don’t think that the fat would ever render out enough, leaving behind chewy undercooked globs of skin, especially in regards to the duck.

I served the Turducken with my Maque Choux:

From Nola Cuisine

and Praline Sweet Potatoes:

From Nola Cuisine

The main problem with making a Turducken from scratch is time. Ordering a Turducken online from Cajun Grocer will definately save you a lot of time, especially for a novice, and you will have a terrific product that will definitely impress your guests, as long as you cook it properly. They really do a nice job and they have a lot of great Louisiana sausages, Tasso, and other products as well.

But for me, the reason for this site, and cooking in general, is making things from scratch, for the sheer reason of knowing how to do it, and enjoying that labor in the kitchen, no matter how long it takes. In doing so you also have complete control over everything, making Turducken stock from all of the bones, making your own stuffings from the stocks, etc. But not everyone wants that kind of control. Very few actually, I believe want that kind of control. Thank God then for companies like Cajun Grocer that will do all of the leg work for you.

Related Thanksgiving Posts:

Turkey Bone Gumbo Recipe
Oyster Dressing Recipe
Praline Sweet Potatoes Recipe

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which has links to all of the recipes featured on this site!

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Mother’s Restaurant

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Mother’s Restaurant has been on the corner of Poydras and Tchoupitoulas since 1938, named after Mary (Mother) Landry who originally owned the restaurant along with her husband Simon and their large family. The Landry family owned and operated the restaurant until 1986 when the Landry sons sold the restaurant to Jerry and John Amato, who still run it today. For a full history of the restaurant with lots of pictures visit here.

From New Orleans

Every time that I have visited Mother’s there has always been a long line, even in the off season, nice to see. The line in my experience contains a nice mix of just about everyone, locals, tourists, lawyers (the courthouse is just down the street), people in suits, people in work uniforms, you name it.

From New Orleans

The counter help may seem a bit short, but like any other great busy sandwich shop in New Orleans, New York or anywhere, it’s necessary to keep the line moving. As a matter of fact I refuse to eat at a deli in New York with friendly counter help, and insults only make the sandwich taste better. I’m not saying that the fine folks at Mother’s are rude, just don’t expect chit chat during the lunch rush.

From New Orleans

The food is good, great Po Boys, Gumbos and soups, I remember having a really great Turtle Soup on a visit years back with nice chunks of Turtle Meat, not ground as in most restaurants. (My Turtle Soup Recipe) Here is their menu!

My favorite sandwich at Mother’s is the Ferdi Special; Roast Beef with Mother’s excellent baked Ham, dressed and with Debris Gravy. The portion seemed a bit leaner than I remember, but then again, maybe I can just eat more now. Actually there is no maybe about it, I can definitely eat more now. I guess the sandwich didn’t get smaller…I’ve gotten larger.

From New Orleans

My wife Sheelah went for the Shrimp Po Boy as she usually does when it comes to Po Boys, nice portion of perfectly fried Shrimp, nicely dressed (by the way, Mother’s uses Cabbage to dress their Po Boys instead of shredded lettuce). We both had Zapp’s chips with the sandwich, which always just seems like the right thing to do.

From New Orleans

I have to tell you folks, I haven’t been to Mother’s or New Orleans for some time now and looking at these pictures and writing this post makes me heartsick for New Orleans. Actually this site was founded on my heartsickness for New Orleans and her food, people, music, architecture, vibe, everything. It has warmed my heart immensely to hear from displaced folks from New Orleans and Louisiana who are away from their home, and have found at least a little piece of it via recipes and remembrances from my site. I hope this site can bring a little joy to your life as it has mine.

Related Posts:

Roast Beef Po Boy with Debris Gravy Recipe
Shrimp Po Boy Recipe
Muffuletta Sandwich Recipe
Domilise’s Po Boy & Bar
Parasol’s Restaurant and Bar

Be sure to visit my ever growing Index of Creole and Cajun Recipes which links to all of the recipes features on Nola Cuisine!

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Beignets

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This really is a wonderful recipe Beignet recipe. The only thing in my opinion that could improve the flavor of these Beignets would be of course to eat them in the French Quarter with the sounds, sites and smells (yes even some of the bad ones) of a morning in New Orleans, with a whole day of adventure ahead. Actually, that’s what this whole site is about, that first bite of a dish that magically takes you to another place and time, or makes you yearn to discover the people and place that created it.

I made this batch of Beignets for my niece who was staying over for the weekend, and my daughter, neither had ever had them before. I’m glad I was the one who got to introduce them to Beignets. After her first bite my niece Noelle exclaimed, “Wow! This is the best thing that ever set sail in my mouth.” Ah, to be nine again.

Anna however didn’t have much to say, she just turned 2, but just the fact that she ate them is compliment enough. She did belt out a few high pitched “Mmmm’s.”

I changed the pic on the page with the recipe, as this one turned out much better than the former, but the Beignets were from the same recipe.

I made a few discoveries while making this batch, however. One, the second rise isn’t really necessary, the heat of the oil puffed them right up, this may be partially due to the fact that I used two envelopes of yeast instead of one, but I think they will rise with one. I’m going to make an adjustment to the recipe.

Just for fun here are some pics from our last trip to Cafe Du Monde last February. As always, I’m dying to get back to New Orleans.

Related Posts:

Beignet Recipe
Calas Recipe

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Shrimp and Eggplant Dressing Recipe

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From Nola Cuisine

Shrimp and Eggplant are a perfect flavor match in this traditional Creole Italian dish, neither trying to overpower the other, just existing in perfect harmony, kind of like Oysters and artichokes, and Okra and Tomatoes.

Besides the Muffuletta, you don’t hear as much about the Italian and Sicilian immigrant contribution to Creole Cuisine as you do the French influence, this is just one.

By the way, there is a great little book from Pelican Publishing in Gretna called The New Orleans Italian Cookbook, a compilation of recipes from the Italian American Society of Jefferson Auxillary. It was first published in 1979, it features recipes from a lot of different people, from Chefs to homecooks, a great little book.

Back to the dish, it’s important to use small eggplant, because they have very few seeds, it’s just less headache. Also, you could alternately boil the eggplants whole, scoop out the pulp and save the shells to bake your dressing in, if you’re into that sort of thing.

As far as the shrimp, I only use wild caught American shrimp these days, if I can’t get American, I don’t eat Shrimp. True, they are more expensive than the flavorless Southeast Asian farm raised stuff out there, and harder to find for that matter, but they taste a whole lot better; and more importantly, purchasing them supports our own Shrimp fisherman who are absolutely suffering these days.

Anyway, back to the recipe, it’s hard to cook when you’re standing on top of a soapbox. 😉

I served this as a side to a big plate of Fried Chicken, Green Onion mashed Potatoes, and Cornbread.

Shrimp and Eggplant Dressing Recipe

1 lb Wild Caught American Gulf Shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped (Reserve the shells)
1 Bay leaf
1 bundle Fresh Thyme, tied with butchers twine
Water, enough to cover the eggplant by 1 inch
1 splash Liquid Crab Boil
4-5 small Eggplant, peeled, enough to yield about 2 1/2-3 Cups Cooked
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 Large Spanish Onion, finely diced
1 Medium Green Bell Pepper, finely diced
4 Toes Garlic, minced
2 Green Onions, sliced thin, keep the green and white parts seperate
1 Egg, beaten
2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme, chopped
1 Tbsp Italian Parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp Fresh Basil, chopped
1 Cup Bread Crumbs (preferably homemade from leftover French bread)

For the topping:

1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1/4 Cup grated Parmeggiano, and Pecorino Romano
3 Tbsp Melted Butter
1 Tbsp Italian Parsley, chopped
A pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring the water to boil in a Dutch Oven. Add the Bay Leaf, bundled Thyme, reserved Shrimp shells, crab boil, any trim from the diced onion, and a handful of Kosher salt. Boil for about 15-20 minutes, skim off the scum from the shrimp shells. Add the Eggplant and reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, melt the 3 Tbsp butter in a saute pan. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and a pinch of salt, saute until the onions are translucent, add the chopped Thyme and the chopped shrimp, cook until the shrimp are just cooked through; set aside to cool.

When the eggplant is very tender remove with tongs to a colainder to cool. When cool, squeeze some of the liquid from it and chop.

In a large bowl combine the eggplant, onion & pepper mixture, egg, fresh basil, and parsley, mix ingredients together well. Add the bread crumbs a little at a time until the right consistency is achieved; it should be not too wet, not too dry. Check the seasoning; season to taste with Kosher salt, Cayenne, and black pepper.

Add the mixture to a buttered gratin or baking dish. Mix together the topping ingredients, top the shrimp and eggplant dressing with it. Bake in the preheated oven until bubbly and the topping is a nice golden brown.

Makes enough for a side dish for 4.

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which links to all of the recipes featured on this site!

Related Posts:

Muffuletta Recipe
Shrimp Stuffed Mirlitons
Creole Stuffed Peppers
Creole Smothered Okra & Tomatoes Recipe

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Cochon

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From Nola Cuisine

**UPDATE Here is my post on Donald Link’s newest venture Cochon Butcher in the same building as Cochon, right around the corner!

Also, Chef Donald Link’s cookbook comes out April 21, 2009, can’t wait! It’s called Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana
(Read my review HERE!)

If I were a pig (no comments please), and I could choose my final resting place, I would choose Cochon. My sacrifice would not be in vain because I would be assured that every part of me would be utilized to create some of the best dishes that I’ve had in New Orleans to date, and that my friends is saying a mouthful.

Chef Donald link, co-owner Chef Stephen Stryjewski and their crew are orchestrating an in house Boucherie everyday, bringing in whole hogs that are broken down, and turned into a plethora of different Charcuterie ingredients, some on the menu and some that change from day to day on their Boucherie plate, more on that later.

Upon first walking through the door of Cochon, the aroma of wood fire and smoked meats will make your knees buckle a little; stop and breathe it in, you’ve entered hog heaven.

The dining room is warm and inviting, kind of a Polished Country feel. Anyway, just look at the picture, I’m not an interior designer, I’m a kitchen guy. Lets just say that it’s a nice, casual and inviting dining room. The staff is extremely friendly and helpful.

Back to the food.

The bar offers a wide array of Bourbons, local beers, and even a few varieties of Moonshine. If you’re interested in something non-alcoholic Cochon’s Lemonade is the best I have ever had, no lie, a perfect balance of sweet and sour, I couldn’t get enough.

The back of the restaurant features a Chef’s Counter, where you can watch all of the action. They have an array of various pickles displayed on the counter as well as some potted herbs for use in the kitchen.

The entrance to the kitchen and service station showcases and stores firewood for use in the wood burning oven.

We started our meal with the Boucherie Plate, how could I not right? This day’s selection:

From Nola Cuisine

Clockwise from bottom left; Speck, Country Bologna, Country Pate, Hogshead Cheese (buried) Peppery toast points, Pork Rillette, housemade Pickles & Pickled Peppers, housemade Creole Mustard (the best I’ve had).

Detail of the speck, country Bologna, and Pate:

From Nola Cuisine

The Hogshead Cheese, perfectly spiced and delicious:

From Nola Cuisine

My entree was the Louisiana Cochon, which is pulled pork that is pattied and seared, served atop turnips and cabbage, with a wonderfully rich pork jus, and topped with crispy Cracklins’!

From Nola Cuisine

Detail of the Louisiana Cochon:

From Nola Cuisine

This dish really has a remarkable pork flavor, a smoky subtlety, and a richness that is beyond compare. I dream about this dish.

My wife had the Beef Brisket with Horseradish Potato Salad, equally phenomenal, while staying true to the casual country dishes of the south.

From Nola Cuisine

After we ate our meal I went up to the Chef’s counter to take some pictures of some meats they had curing in a temperature and humidity controlled case. One of the Sous Chefs saw my interest and invited me into the kitchen to show me around and take some pictures. I was elated. Here are some of the pics I got.

Smoked and cured legs on a speed rack.

From Nola Cuisine

A big old tub of Chow Chow in the walk in cooler. Next to it is a tub of fresh Pompano which was going to be the nights dinner special.

From Nola Cuisine

Coppa curing in the walk in cooler. Various pickles and sauces, all nicely organized in the tight quarters.

From Nola Cuisine

Below the Coppa, housemade Tasso, and below that housemade bacon.

From Nola Cuisine

Legs in different stages of cure in dry storage.

From Nola Cuisine
From Nola Cuisine

A just delivered pig waiting to be butchered.

From Nola Cuisine
From Nola Cuisine

I can’t thank the gentleman who took me on a tour of the kitchen enough, it was a wonderful experience that I will always remember. I’m blown away by the things that these guys and gals are doing at Cochon. This is a huge undertaking, and there is a lot of work involved, hats off to the Chefs and their staff, this place is a labor of love and it shows. I can’t wait to come back.

Here is a video of Chef Stephen Stryjewski butchering a pig and making hot sausage with warm peaches.

For more great pics of some of the food at Cochon check out Jason Perlow’s Cochon post at Off The Broiler.

Also:

Robert at Appetites has a great review with pics here.

Cochon is located at:

Cochon
930 Tchopitoulas Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 588-2123
Email: info@cochonrestaurant.com

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which provides links to all of the recipes on this site!

Related Posts:

Andouille Sausage Recipe
Chaurice Sausage Recipe
Cochon Butcher right around the corner in the same building as Cochon
Pickle Meat Recipe
Boudin Recipe

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